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Focusing on Mission & Evangelism

Baptists should engage in deeds of mercy and address justice issues, and not merely verbally proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, said Baptist World Alliance General Secretary Neville Callam and Emmett Dunn, director of the BWA Youth Department. Both Callam and Dunn led discussions at the Bread of Life Conference (BOL) in Lagos, Nigeria, on November 15. BOL is an international evangelism training program sponsored by the BWA. The meetings in Lagos were specially geared to Baptist leaders and delegates from Francophone Africa. Callam, in referring to Jesus’ self-designation as the Bread of Life, said that while the preaching of the Word is important, Baptists should give heed to the “proclamation of the Gospel in life through deeds of mercy and the kinds of things we do in our churches.”

Baptists, he said, should commit themselves to justice in society, seeking to create an “alternative society, establishing communities that make a difference where they live.” Dunn implored Baptist Christians to make a difference in the lives of their communities and countries. He noted that 95 percent of the people of Rwanda regard themselves as Christians, yet the country descended into genocidal chaos in 1994 when more than 800,000 people were killed in a matter of weeks.

Dunn also made reference to his native country of Liberia in West Africa, whose population is more than 85 percent Christian, yet the country underwent decades of civil war that cost thousands of lives, devastated families, and destroyed countless properties. “Evangelism must be about the truth of the gospel and not just about planting churches and increasing the number of regular Sunday worshippers,” Dunn challenged the audience. “The truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ must have an impact on the lives of those who respond to the Great Commission. It must be reflected in the way we relate to our Muslim neighbors as well as how we respond to issues that affect us politically as well as socially.” African Christianity, Dunn said, is experiencing rapid numerical growth. In 1900 there were nine million Christians in Africa. In 2000, that figure rose to 380 million, and is expected to reach 600 million by 2025. “With this kind of growth, it is easy to believe that all is going well with the church in Africa.” But Dunn indicated that “the lack of a Christ-like lifestyle in dealing with matters of politics, ethnic tension and social challenges” needs to be urgently addressed by African Christians. In confronting these pressing issues, the BWA youth leader urged Baptists on the continent to


Bread of Life Conference Participants

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